Whose Doctor?

Okay… if you’re a regular visitor to my little corner of Cyberspace, you undoubtedly know about my little Doctor Who obsession. I watch it often. I buy all the DVDs. I collect the sonic screwdriver toys. I put Doctor Who references into my books. And, whenever given the opportunity, I write about the show.

Last year, I had an essay included in the academic anthology Doctor Who & Race. It got shortlisted for the William Atheling Jr Award for Criticism or Review. :-)

This year, I have a piece of writing in a new eBook about Doctor WhoWhose Doctor? Reflections on a Time Lord. Edited by Adam Ford, this Aussie essay collection includes contributions from:

  • Screenwriter/podcaster/playwright John Richards (Outland, Splendid Chaps, Songs for Europe)
  • Feminist commentator/founder of Cherchez La Femme live talk show Karen Pickering (the Guardian, the Age, Crikey, New Matilda)
  • Comedian/podcaster Ben McKenzie (Dungeon Crawl, Ben McKenzie is Uncool, Splendid Chaps)
  • Author/playwright/poet Emilie Collyer (The Good Girl)
  • Librarian Philip Ashmore
  • Academic LJ Mayher (Deakin University)
  • Writer/performer Jules Wilkinson (Meanjin, Dude, Where’s My Girlfriend)
  • Author Adam Ford (Man Bites Dog)

Each piece is based on work performed live at “Not Quite the Big Finish: An Evening of Doctor Who Spoken Word”, an event organised by Melbourne Library Services last year. Mine is a letter — a letter to Steven Moffat, to be precise.

Whose Doctor? Reflections on a Time Lord is a bargain at just US$5 and is available in multiple formats from Tomely and Smashwords. It even has its own Twitter hashtag — #WhoseDoctor

You can also check out my original performance. It’s not a fabulous quality vid, but it is watchable…

While we’re on the subject of Doctor Who (and when aren’t we?), I’ve gotta tell you about something really cool that happened during a recent school visit. I presented three sessions at the Dromana Secondary College Readers and Writers Festival. A group of Doctor Who fans stuck around for a chat after the final session. One of them happened to be a music student. And there just happened to be a piano in the vicinity. Suddenly, he was playing the 11th Doctor’s theme… the music echoing around the auditorium foyer, like a time traveller bouncing around the space/time continuum. Sadly the TARDIS did not materialise as I was hoping it might. But it was still a REALLY COOL moment!

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Publication Day

It’s PUBLICATION DAY for books three and four of my You Choose series — Maze of Doom and The Haunting of Spook House. These two books, along with the first two in the series, are now available in all good bookstores. Actually… they’re probably available in the bad ones and the indifferent ones as well. ;-)

Let there be cake…

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Cream Pie Interview is Online

Last week an interview with me was screened on the ABC3 television programme Studio 3. The interview involved me getting slammed in the face with five cream pies while I answered questions about my You Choose books. Only four of the cream pies made it into the final version, with the fifth pie being edited out for time. The interview is now online. Go check it out if you dare…

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Cream pies on ABC3

What would you expect from a national television interview about your latest series of books? A cream pie slammed into your face? No? How about FIVE cream pies?

Earlier this week I went along to the ABC3 studios to be a guest on Studio 3, their national morning kids’ show. I was to be interviewed by the hosts, Liv and James, about my You Choose series of books. Now, Studio 3 has a bit of a reputation for throwing cream pies at its guests. Tristan Bancks was on the show earlier this year and warned about it (he even posted a pic on Twitter)… his advice was not to get any in my mouth as they’re actually made of shaving cream. Yum, yum!

Even though I knew what I was in for, I couldn’t help feeling a little apprehensive.

In line with the reading experience of the You Choose books, where the reader has to choose which way the story will go, the hosts conducted a You Choose style interview. On the table in front of me were ten cream pies. There were questions under five of them. If I chose a pie with a question, all I’d have to do is answer that question. But under the other five pies were little pie symbols — if I picked one these, I’d get to wear the cream pie. Cool concept!

I did not choose well. After a promising start with a question under my first pie, I proceeded to choose poorly… very poorly indeed!

But I did manage to get my own back. James offered to pick a pie, and he too chose poorly. :-)

Despite having five cream pies splattered all over me, I still managed to get a few questions answered as well. Although, believe me, it was rather difficult speaking coherently while trying to hold back the laughter. It was the most hilarious interview experience I have ever had.

After it was all over and I had been cleaned up, they did a second interview, sans pies, going into a little more depth about the books. I think they felt sorry for me, as I may have broken the record for pie-creamed guest. :-)

If anyone wants to see the action (I wonder if there will be slow-mo?) it is scheduled to screen at about 7:10am on Tuesday 10 June. The second interview may show up later in the show (if there’s time) or it might end up on their website.

Let me conclude with a HUGE thank you to everyone at ABC3. The director, the sound person, the makeup person, the stage manager and the camera crew (sorry folks for not remembering your names) were all wonderful. The hosts, Liv and James, were friendly and thoroughly charming, making me feel very much at ease. And a particular thank you to producer Conor Ayres for taking such good care of me and for providing the wonderful photos in this post.

Seriously people… I had an absolute BLAST! I never realised that television could be this much FUN. If Studio 3 ever wants me back — I’m there!

Hmmm… I wonder if they need an extra host? I could audition for that. That way I’d get to be on the throwing end of the pies.  ;-)

 

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Happy Publication Day

The first two books in the You Choose series have now officially hit the shelves. And the eBook readers. So, of course, there had to be cake. What’s a publication day without cake? :-)

The books are available in most Australian bookstores, as well as in Big W. If your local store doesn’t have any in stock, you can ask them to order copies.

They are also available through most online stores, including Boomerang Books, Between Reads and Fishpond.

And there are eBook versions available through iTunes, Big W eBooks, Amazon.com.au and other stores.

But if you would like a signed copy (and stamps… I have cool stamps… so I can stamp your book), come along to the launch at 3pm on Sunday 4 May at The Little Bookroom in North Carlton. It’s a FREE event but please, let us know if you’re coming… here.

I’m definitely feeling VERY EXCITED today! Time to go eat that piece of cake… I’m sure the sugar rush will help to calm me down. :-)

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My Awards Post

Ballots for both the Ditmar and Chronos awards have now been released. And I’m on both! I’m pleasantly surprised and extremely happy.  :-)

The Ditmars are the Australian Science Fiction Achievement awards, decided by popular vote and presented each year at the National Science Fiction Convention (this year it’s Continuum X in Melbourne). They include the “William Atheling Jr. Award for Criticism or Review” (not technically a Ditmar, but presented as part of those awards). That’s the award I’ve been shortlisted for.

“That was then, this is now: How my perceptions have changed” was published in an academic anthology called Doctor Who and Race (Intellect), edited by Lindy Orthia, a lecturer from the Australian National University. Given that a fair chunk of Ditmar voters are unlikely to have read this book, Lindy has been kind enough to put the text of my essay up on the book’s official site. You can read it here.

A full list of Ditmar nominees and voting information is available from the official Ditmar site. Voting has already opened and will close on 28 May 2014. Voting is open to members of last year’s and this year’s National Science Fiction Convention.

The Chronos Awards are the Victorian state equivalent of the national Ditmars, and are presented at the annual Continuum convention in Melboure. Initially I found myself shortlisted for three awards. But this has now been amended.

I am over the moon that Gamers’ Rebellion (Ford Street Publishing), the final book in my Gamers trilogy, has made it into the “Best Long Fiction” category. I feel particularly honoured that I’m there in such amazing company.

I’m also chuffed that my story “Fairy Pie”, published in the children’s anthology Stories for Girls (Random House Australia), is up for “Best Short Fiction”. I’m very proud of this story, which has received a great response from readers and from audiences (grown-ups as well as kids) when I’ve read it aloud.

I am, however, rather disconcerted to see that it’s the only story shortlisted in this category… which means that I’m up against that dreaded “No Award”. While I have no problems about losing to another author, I’ll admit to being rather less enamored of the idea of losing to “No Award”. Given that most of the Chronos voters are unlikely to have read Stories for Girls, my publisher has given me permission to put a PDF of the story up on my website until voting closes. So if you’d like to read it… click here!

I was also on the ballot for the award of “Best Fan Writer”, again up against that dreaded “No Award”. While flattered by the nomination, after much deliberation and soul-searching, I decided to withdraw. I felt uncomfortable about being in this category, doubly so because I was there alone. The only fan writing I do these days is for my DVD/Blu-ray blog Viewing Clutter, and while I would have been happy for that blog to be nominated for a fan publication award, as a person who makes a living out of writing, I felt uncomfortable about the fan writer nomination — especially given how many great fan writers are way more active than me. The last thing I want to do is appear ungracious, as I am genuinely flattered, but in the end I decided I should bow out. I hope voters will understand.

Aside from the awards I’ve been nominated for, I am most excited about the fact that Henry Gibbens has been shortlisted for a “Best Achievement” Chronos for the computer animated book trailer he made for Gamers’ Rebellion. In case you’ve missed seeing it (a rather difficult thing to do, given the number of times I’ve posted it), here it is again…

A full list of Chronos nominees and voting details is available from the Continuum website. Voting has already opened and will close on Sunday 25 May 2014. Voting is only open to members of Continuum.

HUGE congrats to all the nominees in both sets of awards. I am proud to be among you.

 

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You Choose Launch

The first two You Choose books will hit Australian bookstore shelves on 1 May. But the official series launch will take place three days later, with the inimitable Mr Michael Pryor putting these books out to sea… oh, wait, it’s not that kind of launch. :-)

Wanna come along? Here are the details…

Date: Sunday 4 May 2014 (May the Fourth be with you.)
Time: 3pm
Location: The Little Bookroom, 759 Nicholson Street, Carlton North, Vic., 3054.
It’s FREE, but you need to book.
Book here!

But wait, there’s more. As well as this public launch, the books will also receive a school launch for the students of Yarra Road Primary School on Monday 19 May, with Michael Pryor again doing the formalities.

A series twice launched!

 

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More covers + Supanova

It’s finally time to reveal the covers for You Choose books three and four.

Illustrator James Hart has again captured the spirit of the series with his wonderfully dynamic images.

In other news… I went along to Supanova in Melbourne on Sunday to promote the first two You Choose books. I was there along with fellow Random House Australia authors Michael Pryor, Allyse Near and Skye Melki-Wegner.

Wow! What a HUGE event! So many people! Although a touch overwhelming, it was also a heap of fun. A big hello to everyone I met.

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And so it begins…

Okay… so you all know about the You Choose books I’ve got coming out with Random House Australia this year? Interactive kids’ books where the reader gets to make decisions about how the story progresses — like the old Choose Your Own Adventure novels from the 1980s. The first two don’t come out until May, but promotions have already started. In fact, I spent a good deal of last week on the publicity trail. With several weeks until their release, what was I doing? Well, let me tell you about it.

Firstly there were bookshop visits. The marketing people from Random House took me to meet some booksellers around Melbourne. These booksellers had already ordered copies from the publisher’s catalogue. But the visits were a great way to gauge their reaction to the books and also to check for interest in hosting promotional events once the books hit the shelves.

Then there were a series of teacher/librarian events hosted by bookstores that service schools in their area — Lamont Books in Hallam, The Little Bookroom in Carlton and Book Bonding in Nidrie. Along with other authors and illustrators (Michael Pryor , Tristan Bancks , Belinda Murrell and Serena Geddes ) and Random House marketing people, I had a chance to make a presentation to the attendees. What did I talk about? The potential for using the You Choose books in schools…

  • Good for reluctant readers because individual pathways through the books are relatively short, insuring a sense of achievement for the reader. And as a former reluctant reader, I cannot stress to you how important that sense of achievement is if a student is to transition from reluctant to avid reader.
  • Good for avid readers because of the interactivity and the ability to re-read the book numerous times to discover new pathways, sidetracks and dead ends.
  • Good for classroom reading, as the short pathways allow for a complete story to be told within one period. And the interactivity is a great way to engage the students, perhaps getting them to vote at the end of each section when a choice needs to made.
  • Good for classroom discussion of story structure, showing how the decisions of a character can drastically alter the direction of a story. And this can then be related to the students’ own lives and the choices they make every day. Lots of potential for discussion!
  • Good for classroom discussion of perspective in literature, as the books are written in second-person, addressing the reader directly.

I even managed to tell them about all the Doctor Who references I’ve slipped into each of the books. (Okay… so that was a little off track. But hey, any excuse to talk about Doctor Who.)

I was blown away by the response from the teachers and librarians, as well as the booksellers. They have all been really positive about the books. I’ve been wandering around with a dazed glowy-happy feeling ever since. :-)

But no time to get complacent, as more promotions are in the pipeworks (watch this space for launch announcements). No rest for the wicked!

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More YOU CHOOSE revelations

The first two You Choose books, The Treasure of Dead Man’s Cove and Mayhem at Magic School, get released on the 1 May. The next two books get released in July. Finally, I can reveal the titles of those two books…

Maze of Doom

and

The Haunting of Spook House

Covers and internal illustrations are again by the talented Mr James Hart. Here’s a little teaser of the Book 3 cover…

Can’t wait to reveal the complete cover. Watch this space!

 

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Continuum X cometh

Continuum is an annual science fiction and pop culture convention that is held in Melbourne. I’ve been to every single one so far. This year’s (6-9 June) is the tenth and it’s going to be a rather special one, so let me tell you about it and why you should come along.

It’s the tenth Continuum! Quite an achievement!

It’s doubling as the 53rd Australian National Science Fiction Convention… so it will be bigger than usual.

Continuum X will be making a special effort to engage with young people. Given that I write books for kids and teens, I think this is AWESOME! This year’s programme will include a series of YA “meet the author” sessions.

This year’s international Guest of Honour is fantasy novelist Jim C Hines. His books include Goblin Quest, The Stepsister Scheme and Libriomancer. The Australian Guest of Honour is writer and illustrator Ambelin Kwaymullina, author of The Tribe series. As well as doing speeches and appearing on panels, the Guests of Honour will just be hanging around chatting to people and participating in the convention. It will be a great opportunity to meet these amazing people.

In addition to these guests, there will be loads of other authors wandering around, speaking on panels, doing readings and signing books.

There will be a HUGE number of a programme items, including panel discussions, workshops and readings. I’ll be on one of the YA meet the author panels, as well as moderating a second one. I’ll be speaking about my new You Choose series of books on the “Interactive Storytelling panel” and I’ll be obsessing about old Doctor Who episodes on the “Monochromatic Visions” panel. Of course, I’ll also be doing a reading — because you just can’t shut me up. ;-)

And then there’s “Spicks and Speculations”. Each year I host some sort of light entertainment, game-show style programme item. In the past we’ve done “Blankety Blanks”, “Sudden Death Mastermind”, “So You Think You Can Be An Evil Genius” and last year’s “SFQI”. This year, back by popular demand, is “Spicks and Speculations”, which was first run at Continuum 8. Based on the ABC tv show, it will have a somewhat more science-fictional leaning.

Each year, Continuum hosts the Chronos Awards for excellence in Victorian science fiction, Fantasy and Horror. Each year, the Australian National Science Fiction Convention hosts the Ditmar Awards for excellence in Australian science fiction, fantasy and horror. At Continuum X there will be a double-whammy awards night, full of glitz and glamour and… awards!

Nominations are currently open for both sets of awards in professional and fan related categories. Anyone can make a nomination for the Chronos Awards, but you have to be a Continuum member to vote. You must be active in Australian fandom in order to make a nomination for the Ditmar Awards, and only members of Continuum X or last year’s national convention can vote. If you’re interested in nominating anyone or anything, you better hurry as nominations close on 16 March for the Chronos Awards and 30 March for the Ditmars. Details here!

What more can I tell you? There will be a masquerade and a costume competition and some book launches and… oh, the list just goes on and on.

So… have I convinced you? Wanna come along and join the fun? Check out the Continuum website for more details.

One more thing… I’m eligible for nomination in several categories for the above awards. I’m going to tell you about that now, so please forgive me my blatant self-promotion (and you don’t have to read it if you don’t want to). ;-)

My novel Gamers’ Rebellion (Ford Street Publishing, 2013) is eligible for “Best Long Fiction” in the Chronos Awards and “Best Novel” in the Ditmars.

Henry Gibbens is eligible for the Gamers’ Rebellion book trailer in the “Best Achievement” category of the Chronos Awards. Please take a look at the video and consider nominating him. Henry did an incredible job of computer animating this trailer, as well as the trailers for Gamers’ Quest and Gamers’ Challenge.

I have two short stories eligible for “Best Short Fiction” in the Chronos Awards and “Best Short Story” in the Ditmars. They are:

“Fairy Pie” (Stories for Girls, Random House Aust, 2013) and

“Rainbows and Jellyfish” (Stories for Boys, Random House Aust, 2013)

Finally, my essay from Doctor Who and Race (Intellect Books, 2013), “That was then, this is now: how my perceptions have changed”, is eligible for the William Atheling Jr Award for Criticism or Review, which is presented as part of the Ditmars.

So there you have it. There are some amazing pieces of writing that are eligible for the awards this year, so I’m not holding my breath about getting onto the ballots. But if you happen to have read my stuff and liked it, please consider nominating me. :-)

Okay… I’ve rambled on long enough. Time to go. Ciao peoples!

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